Hong Kong

Trip Start Feb 02, 2008
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Trip End May 20, 2008


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The bus trip to Hong Kong was good - we had regular stops for the loo and to stretch, lunch was included at a restaurant in Shantou, and we met nice people to chat with (mostly Hong Kong-ers who could I speak in English with!). The Guangdong scenery we passed through was mostly steep hills coming down to a flat coastal plain full of rice fields and other crops - it looks like a lot of food for all those famous Cantonese restaurants is grown here! Often the sea was visible, but the weather was quite hazy (maybe because we were in the tropics now?). It was a 10 hour drive, but wasn´t uncomfortable at all.


In Hong Kong we stayed with Lea´s friend´s husband (yay for having contacts!) in a little apartment in the suburb of Sai Wan (West Wing) near Kennedy Town. Our first day we went and got ourselves the extremely convenient Octopus Card (that you can use on almost all public transport and some shops), then went off to Kowloon. We originally wanted to go on the free trip in the harbour on the `Duck Ling´ (no idea how it was named), but since it is free, it is also nearly always full and you need to book days ahead (I got some photos anyway!). Nearby was the Avenue of Stars, where the stars of HK cinema have their handprints in the footpath (just like in Hollywood)


It was a bit rainy, so we spent quite a lot of time indoors, especially at the Science Museum which had a wildlife photography exhibition on (there was also an international film fest, but sadly for me I couldn´t make it to any). We explored the infamous backpacker hangout of Chungking Mansion (glad we didn´t stay there) which was full of all kinds of people that weren´t Chinese, and walked along Nathan Rd which is the main shopping street in Kowloon. Dinner was at a Japanese restaurant chain called Asabusabo which had nice udon noodles, and we ended the night watching the `Symphony of Lights´ over Victoria Harbour - where the lights and lasers of the buildings flash in time to music (very cheesy music!).


On the second day in HK we had a little walk around some areas of the city on Hong Kong Island - places like Central, Sheung Wan, Soho: lots of shops and markets, old and new, nestled amid the towering apartments and high-rises. That afternoon we took a bus to the south side of the island for something completely different, and had a look around the sleepy little village of Shek O. There were a lot of people at the beach (it was another nice day), and there were some pleasant walks around - we went out to the end of a short peninsula where we could see the coastline and sea and look back at the village.


To finish the day we went up to Victoria Peak at dusk and got the obligatory shots of HK city in all its glory. There were loads of other tourists around (and we had paid $20 to look at the city from the Peak Tower viewing platform), but it was still a great view, and the views from the bus ride there and back were amazing too. Unfortunately we didn´t try the Peak Tram that goes up the mountain because the queue was huge when we were there.


The next day we took a ferry out to Lantau Island to see more natural countryside. This island is bigger than HK Island and has some big forest-covered mountains. We got on a bus and went to thwwhere we could do a walk near the village of Tai O, starting at a little Buddhist temple and winding through forest, hills and grassland over several steep hills. Along the way we visited a little Chinese garden hidden away in a green valley. The end of the walk was a killer: three steep hills in a row where you go up one side to the top, then back down again, with the track taking you to the peak each time. At least we were rewarded with awesome views as the sun started setting. After that we were too tired to do anything else!
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